PEORIA — What are the odds of sinking a hole-in-one in three consecutive rounds of golf?
I wrote about how Terry McKillip did just that last week. And we were all left to wonder what the odds were.
Well, Cleve In The Eve now has an official numbers guy.
Peoria native Tom Irish saw the story, got in touch, and delivered the staggering answer:
"It's about 1 in 30 billion," Irish said via an email conversation. "Doing it four rounds in a row would have resulted in 1 in 950 trillion odds."
Irish is a retired Boeing St. Louis engineer and retired Air Force Major with a PhD in Operations Research (applied math and statistics).
He also taught probability and statistics part time at Southwestern Illinois College. He grew up in Peoria and left town when he enlisted in the Air Force in 1976.
For you math wizards out there, here's his process:
"I first used the binomial distribution to determine the probability of at least 1 hole-in-one on any given round assuming a golfer has 4 chances during the round," he wrote. "The binomial distribution calculates the odds of achieving some number of successes over the course of some number of independent trials.
"Here, the independent trials are hole-in-one attempts on a par 3 hole."
McKillip, by the way, aced the No. 4 twice and the No. 8 once on his streak at Arrowhead Country Club. Both are par 3 holes.
Back to math class.
"In Excel, I used 1 minus the 'BINOMDIST' function with probability of success = 1/12,500, number of trials = 4, number of successes = 0, and cumulative = to 'false.' This results in the odds of at least 1 hole-in-one in any given round at 1 in about 3,125," Irish wrote. "Then I assumed that achieving holes-in-one in each of three rounds were independent events.
"To calculate those odds you multiply the odds of each event together. In our case, (1/3,125) X (1/3,125) X (1/3,125) = 1/ 30,528,566,504 or about 1 in 30 billion.
"Got it? This would be a great question for my elementary probability and statistics course."
Sports and statistics were made for each other.
There you go, Cleve In The Eve readers. And congrats, you just experienced online learning.
By the way, one more calculation, this one from me:
How long would it take to launch 30.5 billion tee shots, assuming one minute per attempt?
57, 990 years.
That's all for Cleve In The Eve on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020.
Here's your sports quote of the day:
"If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all learn from them. When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: Give up, or fight like hell."
— Lance Armstrong
Dave Eminian is the Journal Star sports columnist, and covers the Rivermen and Chiefs. He writes the Cleve In The Eve sports column for pjstar.com. Reach him at 686-3206 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.